Making WordPress work for you

Date, time, and location: Sunday, 10-10:50 a.m., New Media Central 1

Description: Considered making the switch to WordPress? The former director of CoPress offers tips on how to make an open-source content management system work for your organization. Learn the pleasures and pitfalls of migrating from another CMS and why WordPress is a good solution for college newspapers.

Session outline and notes

Edit this document:


Who I am and why I'm here


Introductions around the room

What is and why you should use WordPress


Why WordPress:

What WordPress offers:

Important note: WordPress will push you to become a more capable online publisher

Who's using WordPress in college media

The Red and Black -

Daily Sundial -

The Campanil -

Student Life at Washingon University in St. Louis -

Whitman Pioneer -

Onward State -

NYU Local -

and many more...

Moving to WordPress

If you’re thinking about moving to WordPress, these are the steps you might follow:

  1. Assess CMS options
  2. Purchase web hosting
  3. Set up the WordPress website
  4. Find a theme to meet your needs
  5. Choose plugins to add functionality
  6. Secure a line of support you can rely on
  7. Migrate archives if you have them
  8. Train your staff
  9. Launching your website

Assess CMS options

Things you’ll likely want to consider

Popular CMS options for college media

Question: Are there CMS options I’m missing?

Purchase web hosting

Once you’ve decided on WordPress, you should start looking at these things for hosting:

Tip: “Managed WordPress hosting” means you’ll pay a little bit more to have the hosting company keep WordPress up to date and running fast. Standard web hosting will generally cost less, but you miss out on regular, guaranteed maintenance.

Different hosting providers we’d recommend you consider

Set up the website

Three possibilities:

Find a theme to meet your needs

Important note: You can easily make most design, color, and font changes with CSS, so functional elements should be prioritized over design.

Aspects to think of when choosing a theme

Premium themes to consider

Choose plugins to add functionality

Here are several favorites specific to publishing:

Secure a line of support you can rely on

Types of things you might need support for:

Your hosting provider may offer support via email, support ticketing or phone

Hire a tech-savvy webmaster as soon as you can

Options for freelance development

Migrate archives if you have them

CoPress open-sourced a Python conversion script you can use to move College Publisher and other archive files to WordPress eXtended RSS, a format WordPress can import/export.

Demo: Export and then import WordPress eXtended RSS file

Train your staff

Things your staff should know how to do:

Content resources:

Launch your website

Final steps:

Question and Answers (coming soon)

If WordPress does 85% of the website... Can I get WordPress to do what I need it to?

        Yes, WordPress has a plugin architecture. This will allow for you to add additional functionality for many different functions. These plugins are written by users to save you time and “do things for you”.

Whats the difference between and is a “for-profit” hosting company. is the creator of the WordPress program.

Will WordPress become a “paid” program eventually?

        No, this is an open source software and because of this it won’t occur. If someone tries to charge you for it - you can just move to a different hosting provider.

What exactly is PHP and MySQL?

        PHP is the scripting language that the entire WordPress ‘program’ is built upon. This is what is controlling all of what you see in the browser. MySQL is the database that is storing the data for the WordPress content (text, images, author, date ect...). You as a user have full access to all of the PHP and MySQL - This means you can move from host to host anytime.

Can I run WordPress on my personal computer or do I need a server?

        PHP is a server side script thus, you do need to run WordPress from a server. However, you can WAMP or XAMPP on your computer that will allow it to run the PHP and MySQL.

What happens to my Domain Name when you switch from College Publisher?

        You have legal rights to the domain name. Ultimately you will want to move that domain to a different hosting provider. This process can take 7-10 days.

How do I install WordPress?

        If you are signing up with a WordPress specialty host you will typically install the WordPress host during the sign-up. If you are signing up with a standard host they will typically support a “one-click” set-up. This will walk you through a few short steps and install WordPress to your desired location.

Does WordPress work on both Windows and Linux servers?

        Yes, WordPress can run on almost any server.

If the school doesn’t have somone on staff for WordPress- what is the cost for this?

        I would personally budget around $400-$500 for the training and set-up as long as you have your theme and plug-ins picked out.

You host 265 website - how do you do that?

        WordPress supports Multi-Site functionality. This allows for one install of the WordPress to present the content of many many websites through different themes.

Why WordPress as CMS instead of Drupal?

        It does 95% of what you need out of the box. It’s easy to make WordPress do what you want it. A more robust CMS will likely have a higher cost than what a small user group can afford and can fully utilize.